Statement by Sir Oliver Heald MP on the draft Brexit agreement

Under this draft agreement the UK would leave the EU and be in charge of its money, laws and borders. The agreement would allow our businesses to continue to trade with the EU without interruption and in a way that minimises the friction of regulation and border controls. 

The provisions about the transition have some difficult compromises to achieve the necessary result for business. 

But we will not be in permanent transition because the EU and UK are legally bound to work with "best endeavours" to get the future relationship in place by the end of the Implementation Period (IP) - 31st December 2020.  It is also important to remember that Article 50 does not allow the backstop to be a permanent solution. It can only be a bridge to the future relationship. Crucially, the EU do not want the UK staying in a backstop longer than necessary as they believe it would give us an unfair competitive advantage.

The sequence of events will be that any time before July 2020 the UK has the option of extending the IP or entering the backstop. If we entered the backstop we could call for a review, at any time. If both sides agree the future relationship is ready we would leave the backstop. If there is a disagreement over the future relationship, a special conference would try and resolve the differences. If that failed to reach an agreement it would go to independent arbitration as to whether the NI protocol is still needed to meet its objectives.

Although the draft agreement is a compromise, it was always going to be. I think the Prime Minister has shown great resilience and courage in reaching this stage and I intend to support her.